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A Chinese PC vendor has begun shipping a box with its homegrown Godson CPU, with a price tag of between $175 to $200. Thanks to current exchange rates, that's under £100. Eventually, though, OEM ZhongKe Menglan Electronics expects to sell the unit for $125.

Processing is powered by the Godson-2 chip, also known as Longxhin, a co-production between the Beijing Longxin IC Design Company (BLX) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. ZME's Godson-2 runs at 800Mhz to 1GHz, according to the EE Times, includes 256MB of DDR memory, and a 40 to 60GB hard disk. Not a specification to worry Dell, but plenty enough horsepower to run Linux.

It's the rapid pace of China's technological progress that most impresses outsiders, however.

Today the Chinese Academy of Sciences gave details of the latest Godsin/Longxin, which the Academy claims is comparable to an Intel Pentium 4. Depending on whether you prefer the Academy's naming convention or BLX's, the new chip is called the Godson-2E, or the Longxin IIE. It boasts 47m transistors, has a clock speed of 1GHz, and mass production is expected towards the end of this year.

The academy says it's working on 8 to 16-core versions too, to debut in the Godson-3.

Observers in the past have described Godsin as a MIPS derivative.

The CAS denies that Godson/Longxhin owes MIPS any IP royalties, arguing that it conducted due diligence to avoid infringing MIPS patents.

The sub-£100 PC represents an important milestone in more than one respect. It not only prices a PC as low as a PDA, but lower than the lowest retail price of a copy of Microsoft Windows. ®

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